A Quirky Christmas in Walsall

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Image: Kevin Bennett

Driving into work this morning, my husband commented on the abundance of giant cardboard boxes waiting for trash pick up. Giant cardboard boxes with pictures of flat screen televisions on them. It must be the gift of the year. I like the idea of a family Christmas gift. When my son was a newborn, my parents bought the three of us a combined gift: a snowblower. It gave my husband more time in the house to help me and to be with our son, and it gave them peace of mind knowing that we could get out quickly if we needed to take Toby somewhere.

We almost became part of the fad this year, as we were going to go the flatscreen family-Christmas-present route. We opted to be selfish and get other things, instead. Multiple other things that could be opened greedily on Christmas morning…

My Dad has a store back in England. He sells action figures of all kinds, trading cards, all manner of dice and board games. He sells bags and mugs emblazoned with Wonder Woman and Betty Boop. He sells each kind of monopoly and a beanie baby for every TV character that they make one for. He sells remote-controlled Daleks and 12-inch Freddy Kreuger room guards. For special customers he seeks out unusual items from their geekout of choice. He is responsible for a good chunk of a small house nearby being filled with obscure Star Trek merchandise from the far corners of the globe. I’m always curious every year as to what the Christmas favorite is in my quirky home town, and my yearly report just came in:

  • Betty Boop– figurines ranging in size from six to forty eight inches. The bride and the angel Betty were in most demand this season.
  • Doctor Who – a perennial favorite since the dawn of Mr Christopher Eccleston, this year’s “must haves” were Doctor Who Monopoly and Doctor Who Chess.
  • The Moomins – Toys and merchandise based on a series of Finnish children’s stories. My son has the books, I long for the amigurumi pattern. This year’s favorite – a 12-inch plush.
  • The Chipmunks Beanie Babies – ah David Seville, you have a lot to answer for.
  • Paraphernalia from Only Fools and Horses, a sitcom that ended in 1991, but continued with Christmas specials until 2003.
  • Pokemon plush – every year for as long as I can remember.
  • Wands – specifically those belonging to Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort.
But the number one request, kept off the top spot only by lack of availability? Mr. Bean’s Teddy Bear. Also kept off this list through lack of availability, though not lack of requests, a Rory Williams action figure.
What’s your “must have” gift this year?
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